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The Business Value of AI

artificial intelligence technology Nov 14, 2023

(802 words/ 3.5 minute read)


Avoid the distraction of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Everywhere you turn, there is another artificial intelligence tool out there that promises to save you time, money, and even resources.  Rather than be distracted by “shiny object syndrome”, we need to be asking what is the business value of using this tool.  And ask what’s the business value to us – our organization, our customers, our brand and legacy.  Like everything else, AI is still simply a technological tool. And like our other technology that is proliferating our daily lives, it’s what you do with it that derives the business value. This is why the profession of business analysis is so important as yes, it often bridges the gap between business and IT; however, it’s the value that comes from exploring where and how and when and why for whom they can deliver value by using that said technology. 

AI in Practice

I had a wonderful example of showing some technology to a great colleague of mine. She had no clue it was actually AI until half way through our conversation. She was so focused on what the AI was actually doing, what it was giving her.  She was seeing the value of the outcome of what it produced. I was focused on the productivity aspect and the return on investment I got from leveraging this tool.  It is what the technology was doing for us that mattered.  And that is the question with AI.  What can AI help you do more of?  What increases in value can AI facilitate?  AI was not the outcome here, but the means to accomplish a goal.   In this instance, my one activity with this technology led to multiple value streams.  This is that power of AI. You are extending, expanding, and improving existing processes, and looking to get more value out of not just your monetary investment but then especially your time investment.

The Business Value of AI

But you have to ask his business questions beforehand. What is it that you wish you could do faster? Where do you wish you had the time to reach out to customers and connect with them such that they feel valued?    Like take ChatGPT - a great tool that put AI more in the hands of the general consumer.  Yet, the people who are harnessing the power of this tool are the ones learning how to write the best prompts.  It’s not about the technology and how it works – its about what it produces for you.  Sure, it can write emails and articles and business proposals for you, but if you don’t prompt it in the right tone or give it the proper format or explain the behavior or action you want your customer to take after reading your summary, the tool ends up being a great big waste of time.

Where does AI sit in your Business?

When we start placing AI as a tool in our toolbox, we put the focus back on our business.  Think about it – are you an AI company?  Are you a technology company?  Many of us are not in the business of AI, but in the same manner we’re not in the business of email.  We use email to accomplish our work.  We have websites to communicate information.  While it may feel required to be in business, it is not the actual product or services we offer, but rather is a vehicle that streamlines our delivery to our customers and everything they need to be successful.  This is the perspective we need to see AI from. 

Of course the challenge is that there are so many tools out there, how do you pick?  How do you know if you should be using AI (cause everyone of course is telling you that you should!)?  First go back to your goal.  What do you want to do?  What is it that you want to accomplish?  Answer this first.  Always give the ‘what’ and ‘why’ first.  Then utilize your experts and amazing team to answer the question of what is the best way how to accomplish your ‘what’ and ‘why.’  For those that are unclear on a business analyst’s role – this is often what they do.  They help facilitate the discussion on what are the desired outcomes and why.  Then they drive to the details of how would you know you’ve accomplished this or what the acceptance criteria looks like.  When we have this defined it is actually quite easy then to determine the best tool to support our work because the destination is much clearer.  But we always start with the value proposition.  We want to define the business value of any effort (and yes, the business value of not doing something is always an option!) before we start diving in and committing valuable time and resources.  When we do this, now we can make AI work for us instead of feeling like the other way around!

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